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Domestic violence can be hard to depict in movies in a realistic way. See how director Kaitlyn Boxall pulls it off in 'Behind Closed Doors'.

Behind Closed Doors success

British Film Director, Kaitlyn Lorraine Boxall admirably throws caution to the wind in telling an admittedly personal story in the form of her hard-hitting drama, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ which became overwhelmingly popular across the globe. 

The film is also a very personal story to Writer/Director; Kaitlyn Boxall, who states that the film is inspired by her own mother’s struggles with domestic violence before she fled to a women’s refuge when Kaitlyn was only 3 weeks old. 

Taking place before and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the film bravely urges those in need to get help sooner rather than later. Domestic abuse is not a fun topic to discuss but is one that deserves attention regardless. There have been countless films that have had aspects of it present in their plots but very few that have actually had it at the forefront of the story. 

The film centers around Lisa Crawford (Holly Prentice), a young wife and mother, who is trapped in an abusive marriage. Her husband, Mick (Ryan Graham), is supposedly a good father but any frustrations he has are taken out on his wife. This causes Lisa to confide in her friend, Alison (Ellie Mulhern), and seek help from a therapist. 

Despite clashing during their first therapy session, Lisa and Aaron Smith (Vasile Marin) grow comfortable with one another as their sessions continue, becoming intimate and further complicating matters. This created a shocking controversy for the storyline. 

Director, Kaitlyn Boxall has now become best known for her realistic on-screen depiction of domestic abuse and the extent of it during a global lockdown during a pandemic.

She recalls the importance of the film’s message, “It is so important for movies like ‘Behind Closed Doors’ to be made, because not only does it have the power to raise awareness, but these types of film can also educate a younger audience and create positive influence in terms of showing people the signs of abusive and controlling behaviour.”

The on-screen representation is clear as the cast and crew do not shy away from showing discomfort as Lisa slowly begins to realise her predicament and the need to get away from her toxic and, most importantly, dangerous relationship. For this, Boxall puts all of her faith into Holly Prentice to bring domestic abuse victim Lisa Crawford to life. 

Prentice does a great job as she puts on the façade of a caring wife while fearing for her own safety as well as that of her children. There is  also the budding romantic relationship she has with Aaron which could potentially be seen as fleeting and simply convenient due to his profession. As a viewer, you always feel for Lisa as her life remains an endless cycle of abuse and confusion. 

At times, it feels like the storyline is also part romance as Lisa and Aaron become attached to one another. In his own way, Aaron is a contributor to said domestic issues as he takes advantage of a mentally and emotionally distraught patient who has confided in him, which is Boxall’s deliberate move to create outstanding controversy.

“I do think it’s very important to not glorify physical/mental abuse. You have to remember that films have the power to influence people, as well as being a form of entertainment. You are not just entertaining an audience, you are influencing them . 

A lot of young people can hold perceptions of life that stem from how a film can depict societal issues. This can be problematic. This is a concept that ‘Behind Closed Doors’ plays around with, creating controversy and deliberately makes viewers question themselves on what the film’s message really is.” 

Kaitlyn says, reflecting on the reality of abuse. 

Nevertheless, it is the controversial aspect that spiked interest, majority being from domestic abuse victims who deemed the film as “spot on”. This revelation of the production allowed Boxall’s depiction of this harrowing topic, to be entirely unique from other film’s that have produced different depictions of mental/physical abuse. 

“Being the director of this story was not just about creative control but also about my own understanding on what it is really like to put yourself in that abusive atmosphere. The film raises so many questions for viewers, and opens up an interesting debate about how the film can create a positive or negative impact, based on the controversy it represents.” 

Kaitlyn explains, recalling the impactful moments of what a film can bring. 

‘Behind Closed Doors’  is an uncomfortable watch from start to finish and that feeling of always being on edge is prevalent throughout. The overwhelming responses to the film led to a sequel being released, ‘Behind Closed Doors 2’ which Boxall made the new opportunity of exploring the extent of physical, emotional and mental abuse during a lockdown, attracting 144,368 viewers. 

There’s no doubt that people will relate to the story of Behind Closed Doors and feel the need to get help themselves if need be. “The sequel explored how lockdown impacts someone’s mental health as well as the overall topic of domestic abuse. This was a very important combination to represent.” Kaitlyn says, explaining the importance of mental health aspects within the film. 

Kaitlyn Boxall at just 21 years old, is now recognised for her unique approach towards societal issues within film as a rising Film Director. She is soon to be working on a brand new production, based on an interesting mixed concept surrounding the topics of racism and dementia.

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